Compilation of Memories (Memoirs)
Part 27

Grandfather Abraham’s 80th Birthday

On the second of Iyar 1946, was the year of heroes (Grandfather’s 80th birthday). Getzel Kressel, the young writer born in Zablotov, organized a party for me. He invited old friends and they decided to make a big party which would on the day after Shavuot and not during the period of Omer and mourning. The invitations said: “We are honored to invite you to the party in honor of R’Abraham Keusch’s 80th birthday having reached the year of heroes. The party will be on June 6, 1946 in the Davar building Rechov Shenkin 45, Tel Aviv at 8:30 in the evening. Please be prompt. Honorably Yours with Blessings,

“M. Hanish, Dov Weiss, Abraham Keren”

More than 100 and maybe even 200 men, women, relatives and friends as well as two Rabbis came. They enjoyed themselves at the long tables filled with food and drink. The chairman was my old friend, R’D.Weiss. He opened the party with a long speech and greetings in my honor. He was followed by S.Z. Yavitz born in Lvov, who gave an impressive speech. Mrs. Lichtigstein, a relative, Rochale, daughter of R’Michael and Feige Kressel ז'ל, read from the letters from the young writer R’Shimshon Meltzer and his greetings followed by her greetings. Her husband R’Gedalia Lichtigstein gave a passionate speech followed by 5) R’Joseph Eisenstein from Ramat Gan, 6) R’Meir Shlein, 7) R’Abraham Keren (Kirchner) the head of the citizens from Kfar Saba, 8) the son of Shalom Meltzer ז'ל Dr. Nathan Meltzer made the most important speech full of meaning and warm praise, 9) R’ Moshe Lonzon, a friend and a member of the committee of the Beit Knesset Geulat-Israel where I pray and study Gemorrah, 10) an old friend, an engineer R’Joseph Tischler from Bnei Brak, 11) a friend R’Pinchas Aaron Grupman, 12) the son of R’Chaim Shatner, R’Arie Schechter, 13) the last speaker was Rabbi Ben Zion Pendler. (All this is listed exactly as Grandfather wrote, including the numbers. RDK)

After those seated feasted with a cup a tea, juice and sweets, I received permission from the chairman to answer the greeting with my long speech.

Honorable chairman loved ones, friends, beloved brothers and sisters and speakers!

In the Midrash there is an interesting story: our Rabbenu, the holy Rabbenu, R’Yehuda HaNasi passed thru Samnia, the people of Samnia came out to see and requested from him, “Rabbenu give us a man that knows us, will change us and will judge us.” He gave them R’Levi Bar Sissi. They built him a big stage and seated him on the stage above them. No words from the Torah came from his mouth. They asked him three questions and he was silent. We asked him to read, to answer. Is it possible that this uneducated man is a legend? Since he thought there was trouble, he went to Rabbenu who asked “What is the problem with the people of Samnia?” “They asked me questions and I was unable to answer them”. “Why didn’t you answer them?” What it the meaning of all this? If you make me a large stage and seat me above the crowd, the words of Torah will also desert me. Something like this happened to me. That is the essence of the story.

(Page 150)

If I am not mistaken the holy Rabbi did not mean to lower the honor of one of his important students but to comfort him on this unpleasant incident: Being that the people of Samnia gave him a great honor. No doubt they prepared a large party with long tables with food and drink. Speeches were made; cups were raised in honor of the important, wise Rabbi. He was overwhelmed, confused and at that moment his mind went blank and he forgot everything.

What occurred to R’Levi has now happened to me. The important speeches, the wonderful words that made one’s heart happy were exaggerated in their praise. With all the great honor that was given me and the joy and pleasure, my head went blank and words of greetings and thanks were forgotten.

From holy writings and present day investigations, we know that many people reach the age of 80. At this age they lose some of their ability. For example, in Prophets, Samuel B, portion 19, King David, in the days of the revolt of his son Abshalom, fled thru the Judean desert to Machanaim. He was helped by Barzilai the Giladi all the time he was in exile. When King David returned to Jerusalem after the fall of Abshalom, “the king said to Barzilai. Come thou over with me and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem and Barzilai said to the king. How long have I to live that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am 80 years old, can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat and what I drink? Can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should thy servant be a further burden to my lord, the king?”

Aren’t I similar to this Barzilai?

Another example is Ecclesiastes portion 12.”Remember your Creator and the days of thy youth” Your body and your senses were healthy, the evil days will come, days of age, the body deteriorating, loss of strength, dulling of senses and feelings. Ecclesiastes draws us a full picture of the weaknesses and the failures of old age.

A wise man of our time wrote in his book with this language: There are many with great spirituality and knowledge but when they reach old age, they seem like infirm ghosts in what they do. As happens to simple people like me.

My strength has weakened; my senses have dulled, especially due to the days of shock and tragedies that have befallen us. The wave of curses that covers all the generations that poured their anger hate on us. The insanity in front of ones eyes of what one saw and what was heard, what utter cruelty, how the sadistic Nazi murderers trampled on this little, lonely goat (החד גדי) that was limping and in the corner, our sons, our daughters, our brothers, our sisters, the six million holy and pure, and until this hour we have not yet found rest from our overwhelming blows. The head is in pain, the heart cries out and bleeds and the tears do not cease.

After all this, I cannot put out of my mind the concept of one important blessing, and that is the blessing of the Cohanim. This blessing is important for every Jew and one recites it twice a day and it is important for the Cohanim. We pray a special prayer before the lectern. “May this blessing be complete without failure” We bless a special blessing for his people with love. It flutters in my heart and brain, all my bones tell me and I have the desire of these ideas and express my emotions, my thanks and my blessings as did all the Cohanim and Rabbis, like Rashi, Rabbi Akiva, Itzchak, etc.

(Pages 150/151)

The important lesson is found in this week’s portion of the Tanach. It begins where God speaks to Aaron and his sons and thus blesses them. Here is the blessing, do not add or change it. Not everyone can bless the people according his desire. Words may be uttered that are not according to My wishes. From the phrasing of this wonderful blessing, there are three short portions that contain all the goodness of time and the everlasting victories and here they are: may God bless you with life, health and undamaged sons that hear with joy the voices of their parents and teachers. May He guard you so that no accident befalls you and no evil should cause you to leave His goodness. May you have pleasure from His goodness and may He guard you from all illness of the body and those blows that occur in the country. May He guard you against a mental illness, send you to do what is permitted and stop you from immoral deeds. May God light his face and look at you and take care of you and your deeds. You should complete your self in knowledge and full education and this will please God. May the studies of Torah, wise men, knowledgeable men be close to your heart always.

If you are wise and clever, God will love you. If you are not, God will be angry with you but will conquer his anger.He will love you, see your face in the light of the king of life and make peace. The term “peace” has many meanings. 1) External peace! All the peoples sitting around your country should live with you, not be jealous and not want the land that is yours. As it is written, the way of man is to fulfill the wish of God for his people. 2) Internal peace! Every man will act according to his nature with dedication to moral intelligence with a restful soul and quiet spirit. 3) General Peace! In order for peace to happen, peoples will join together and try to work out their differences and disagreements. They are wrong. According to this, they will never have real peace and independence. The name and the idea of “peace” will be shown to us by getting together and being friends with heart and soul. We must sit with our neighbors and understand them. If we sit together in one city and each of us goes his own way to work in his profession then we cannot say there is peace among them. Everyone is different from his brother and far from his heart.

Real peace we learn from Hillel. He said: Students of Aaron loved peace. Aaron the Cohen tried to establish the behavior of man to man according to the Torah. He also called for benevolence after peace. According to Midrash; When Aaron the Cohen saw a fight between two people, he came to one of them and told him. My son, see how your friend is torn apart, pulling his hair, saying “woe is me” and look what you did to his face. Aaron sat and talked to him until he pulled out of him every drop of hate and jealousy. Then he sat with the other party and talked the same way. They then met and hugged and kissed. Aaron was a father to orphans and widows and worried that they be fed and educated. He helped all that approached him.

When Moshe Rabbenu died, it was written: My sons will cry. Moshe Rabbenu was the theoretician and most of his days he spent with spirituality and secrets of the Torah. He gave the Torah to the chosen elders and they felt his loss and cried for him. When Aaron the Cohen died, it was written that all of Israel will cry, men, women and children. Aaron the “practical one”, was a good father to all, everyone felt his loss and cried.

I end by thanking all who took part in this celebration and wish you all to reach and celebrate the 80th birthday with wife and family, with joy for all, under his grape vine and fig tree in our country, our pure native land Amen.

(Pages 151/152)

June 6, 1946 was my son David’s 40th birthday. This is the year of understanding (בינה). May he have the desire to fulfill blessings and educate men and bring understanding to people. May he know how to advance and to lead his sons to the golden path of his forefathers and continue their traditions of generations here in our pure, holy, Jewish country.

On the day we celebrated my 80th birthday, I received a long letter from the Rabbi, Admor of Sadagorra, R’Abraham Jacob the son of R’Israel Freidman who lives on 27 Rechov Nachmani. He congratulated me with many blessings. The letter was read to all who were there with cheers and hand clapping. I also received a letter of congratulations from Rabbi, Admor Mordechai Shalom Joseph Freidman from Sadagorrah and afterwards Petshenishin, who now lives on 10 Rechov Bezalel, Jaffa. I also got a letter of blessings for my 80th birthday from R’David Tzvi Pincus, an old and dear friend, a member of the City Counsel, Gabai in the Beit Knesset HaGadol, etc. There were also letters from family, friends, from different places filled with good wishes and congratulations.

With the efforts of my son David, we got a license from the government to import wood and trees from abroad but to no avail. Even though we had the license, there was no purpose to using it because we would only lose money. We had to withdraw money from savings in order to eat. The prices went up daily even more so than during the war.

In April 1946, I received a long letter from my son Nathan, who now lived in Fall River, Mass. in America. He told me that his economic situation was very good and was now making twice his previous salary. In the company where he had been a clerk, he was now a partner and getting small percentages. He also did not have to support his sons who did not live at home at this time. Nathan decided to send me $50. a month (15-16 Lei). In this letter I found a check for April and on the same day, I received another letter with $300. I wrote him that at this time I did not need his help as I was still earning a small income. I told him not to send any more money but he continued with his decision. I answered him on the same day and returned the check by return mail. I received permission from Nathan to use the money for something worthwhile for the family. I advised him that any future money would be put into an account in the bank and maybe in time, to buy a piece of land for him, if there would be enough money.

My son Jacob got engaged with the daughter of Mr. Tzvi Alexandrovitch, a Jew from Poland that came to the country ten years ago. His daughter Rachel was a student in the religious gymnasium “Talpiot”. After she completed her studies, graduated, got her license and became a nursery school teacher. The behavior of Rachel and her parents were in the spirit of religion. In the month of Cheshvan, we celebrated the occasion of their engagement with a meal and wine. About twenty men and women, friends and family were there. The marriage was to be December 1946. May it be in a good hour and successful.

David and his family left my house in Rechov Feierberg and went to live in their new house at the end of Rechov Yehuda HaLevi, close to the Moshava “Sharona”. This was a new cooperative building with three rooms. It cost him 2800 lei with a down payment of 800 lei and the balance was a mortgage. David’s apartment went to my son Jacob who is getting married and will live there with his wife. In a blessed hour!

(Pages 152/153)

My son David’s apartment was valued at about 1,000 lei because in the same area they began to build extensively. They were building on the land of the German Moshav Sharona. The government buildings, “HaKiriya”, the offices of the President Chaim Weitzman and most of the other officials moved into those buildings. HaArgaz gave a helping hand to their founding members by paying about 1,500 lei of the mortgage, so as to reduce the burden of the monthly interest. This was given to him as part of his profits from the factory from the time it was established until now.

The splendid and beautiful marriage of my son Jacob was on יא בקסלו December 3, 1946. The invitation read:

The parents of the bride, Tzvi Alexandrovitch and his wife; the parents of the groom

Abraham Kish Keusch and his wife are honored to invite you to take part in the

joining of our children, Rachel and Jacob. The chuppah will take place, God willing

on Tuesday, December 3, 1946, at 7:30 in the evening in the hall of the Gymnasia

Talpiot on Rechov Mltst, corner Avoda, Tel Aviv.

Telegrams can be sent to Keusch/Alexandrovitch, Tel Aviv, Feirberg 23.

At eight in the evening, the bride and the groom entered the chuppah. The Rabbi, R’A. Takotch, who takes care of religious, legal marriages for the government gave the blessing. The honor of the Seven Blessings was given to R’Abraham Keusch. The Chuppah was in the yard of the gymnasia under the stars. The large hall that had room for about 150 people was not large enough for the 300 that came. Place for them was made in the rooms next to the hall. The long tables were filled with everything good; tasty cakes, sweets, fruit, bottles of wine, liquor and beer. The participants enjoyed all of this and some of them even became drunk.

The important people who took part in the celebration were:

1) Tova and her children, A. D. Flintenstein, son in law of the Admor Kapitnitch and his wife BatSheva, her son Naphtali and her daughter Eliza

2) HaRabbanit Rasli, the wife of the Admor Sadagorra, the Rabbi was not well enough to come.

3) Mr. Mordechai Dov Keusch, his wife was not invited.

4) Chana Bat Tova זל with her husband, Mr. David Sternberg

5) Tova Clear, daughter of Aunt Rifka, mother of Abraham Clear of the factory Argaman, Ramat Gan

6) Tova Milbauer, daughter of my deceased uncle, R’Joseph Meltzer and her daughter Shlomit Pikhaltz

7) Dr. Nathan Meltzer, son of the deceased Shalom, a friend from my youth

8) Aaron Meltzer, son of my brother-in-law R’Moshe Leib זל and his wife Feige

9) Geveret Krenzi Wasserman, daughter of M.L.Meltzer, as above

10) Sisters Sarah and Nehama Meltzer who live in Haifa, daughters of my brother-in-law, R’Feibush

11) N. Meltzer, the pharmacist, and his wife, son of Chaim from Bukovina

12) Shimshon, the farmer, and his wife, son of Baruch and Tova, daughter of Shimshon Kahan and Miriam זל

13) R’Meir Shleim and his daughter, he was the son of R’Leib, the deceased from Stanislau

(Pages 153/154)

14) Tzvi Blaustein and his wife and daughter, he was the grandson of R,Shlomo from Zablotov זל who was the son M. Blei

15) Dr.I Keusch and his brother R’David, from Rechov Hevron 2, from the family of their father R’Shaul

16) Naomi (Ziski) Fiderer, daughter of R’Israel Leib Freifelder, victim of the Nazis

17) Arie Shechter and his wife, son of Chaim Shatner from Kuti זל

18) R,Dov Robinson and his wife, son-in-law of Miriam Yenta Blum from Stanshtil

19) Dr.A. Lebel and his wife, Acheel, daughter of Tzipi, daughter of Uncle S. and Miriam Kahan, Gan Yavne

20) Friends and acquaintances: A. Grupman, R’Israel Singer, his wife and daughter, I. Bergman, Tama, the Pecker brothers, I. Tishler, I. Heinrich from Herzlia,

Neighbors: I. Shtrich, Asher Levine, Mrs. Haltz and son Arie, R’Itchy Meir,

Friends of the groom: 15 to 20 people clerks of the court and another 70 men and women from the groom’s side.

There were about 100-130 on the bride’s side that were invited and about 100 that were not invited who attacked the tables like eagles after their prey.

The groom’s brother David and his wife, Rachel, as well as the bride’s mother and father were under the Chuppah.

After most of the guests had satisfied themselves with all kind of sweets and fruits they sat at long tables filled with challot, salads, fish, drinks, etc. The Rabbi, who gave the Kiddushim, spoke in honor of the groom from the Talmud. Afterwards, R’Abraham gave a speech. Some of the friends and family left the celebration before the end because there was no room to sit and because of the lack of order in the hall. Some of those not invited took their places and did not move. We are sorry about this.

Bride and groom, Jacob and Rachel!

At this hour, you are connected one to another according to the Torah, our society and our country. At this hour, you are adding one ring that is a basic link of the big chain of humanity, society and country. From today begins a new period in your lives. You are laying the foundation to build a new house and family in Israel. The life of the family is the root of life of this country in which you live. You join our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who work to develop, build and bring to fruition this country of milk and honey. Rachel, with the choice of your heart, you have found loyal love for your husband. No doubt, he will fulfill his duties as husband to wife. This is according to the conditions of the contract that you both signed. This is the Ketubah that you received an hour ago. You Jacob have surely found your choice of love, a loyal wife, and a valiant woman who knows how to fulfill obligations of a woman to her husband.

I have the wishes and prayers that you will be like the first Jacob and Rachel, our first father and mother. That Rachel was the symbol of the Jewish people in the Diaspora who kept our hopes for freedom. You, mother Rachel, was able to touch the hearts of her children and families throughout the generations with great love and devotion to her people and everything holy. She was able to include them in the pain and sorrow of our people and give them a strong feeling of security that they will survive and be redeemed.

(Pages 154/155)

Jacob and Rachel, our pious forefathers, will influence with their spirit the new couple whose names are like yours. May you go on the same road that was paved before you to the house of God. May those blessed fathers bestow on you blessing on your way, the beginning of the walk of life. May the path be full of roses for all that you do and may you succeed.

I would like to see you as loyal friends, loving one another and with your strength, arm in arm dealing with the burden of life; hand in hand fighting the war of survival in all its aspects in different situations, all the days and years of your lives.

According to the wisdom of חזל', the wise men who study the laws of life, and the wise men who research the soul, conclude that there is much more in marriage than what is thought. The laws of ethics say: as a Jew the latent power creates the man. The Mighty One, the Holy One, the Blessed One creates the indivisibility of the woman and the man that are blessed one with the other. Two people are joined into one. They are separated from other people in many known aspects. The body and soul of both have to intertwine physically and mentally, with ideas, tendencies, concept of good and evil, pleasure and pain. These qualifications are more important than the laws of the country for they will be better and holy. These are things that their intelligent soul needs and are part of God.

According to the Torah, an important and vital part of marriage is to have sexual relations and increase the world community of Jews. This obligation exists only under the marriage relationship. A wise man of our generation wrote in his book about this in the following language: desire is sown in the heart of man to connect the “I” to humanity that is there forever. That is to say, the laws of the soul of man and his nature desire “eternal life”. This desire is seeded in the heart of man in the strong feeling to extend his existence while facing his reality. Man wants to extend his days and those of his sons after him, creating generations and God will put out the candle and man will die if he leaves this way of life.

In achieving these conditions and spiritual qualities, the Creator’s desires will be fulfilled and the visions of the men of Torah will be realized. This will also fulfill the duties of society, the country and world humanity.

I fulfilled the pleasure of the groom’s meal with joy. I will be happy if the thoughts and ideas will have an echo in his heart and he will fulfill them. I end with a blessing of the important prophet Yeshiyahu, may the house you build be a place of peace נוה שאנן and it should have all that is good forever without problems. The Cohen blesses the bride and the groom and all those who participate in our celebration.

I, in the name of the family, thank all the important guests that joined us in this gathering. It is not just with song and dance that we make the bride and groom happy but with words and ideas that we give them.

I promise that my close friend, Rabbi Pinchas Aaron Grupman who will speak after me with words that will be filled with important meanings and blessings. An important friend, R’Israel Singer and Mr. A. David Flintenstein will play and sing known melodies that will make everyone happy.

We the parents of the groom and bride will be pleased to see the new generation blessed with loyal sons to God, to Torah, according to tradition, love for Israel under your grape vine and fig tree.

May we all be able to see the realization of the founding of our country, a pure Jewish land. May our redemption be quickly fulfilled. Amen

(Pages 155/156)

Rabbi Grupman fulfilled my request by speaking about an important and tastefully phrased paragraph from the Talmud and its blessings. The blessing of the food was given and after that the Rabbi gave the “seven blessings” The official ceremony ended about midnight.

Mr. Singer and Mr. Flintenstein pleased the hearts of the couple and all the others who were there, most of them family, with songs and dance. I was the first to dance with the bride with a handkerchief. This was followed by the entire crowd with songs and dances.

According to Beit Hilled, the bride was lovely and modest. At about a quarter to one, we left the hall to return home. We really felt satisfied in our hearts with this celebration, with the many people attending and the food and drinks. May God be blessed that we lived to see this wonderful event.

All the relatives and friends from both sides, that took part in this simchah, brought gifts to the new couple. The gilts included dishes of different kinds, some of silver, other of porcelain and metal that were expensive. Friends brought flowers that gave off a lovely scent with a reminder of the sweetness and smell of good oil, but don’t call it “oil” שמניך , call it your name שמך that is to say that the smell of flowers follows the pleasure of hearing the name of the bride, “Rochale”.

We will make photographs of most of the guests, and particularly those of the family. The celebration of my son’s wedding was beautiful but did not ease the pain of my heart and my sad spirit over the tragedy that befell all the Jews and in particular my personal losses. The heart is still wounded and bleeding and the head throbs over those nine innocent and naïve souls who were dear to me and are now dead. They were wiped out and who knows by what means they were killed by the murderers in the years 1942-1943 in Stanislau and Dalatin? Even at a time when there is a simchah there is no way that I can find peace.

To every beginning there is an end. It has come the time to finish the sale of the 17 dunam of land that were bought in 1932 from Tzvi Schechterman. I still had a debt of 60 lei for that land, according to what I wrote on page 110 (diary). The land was not used, it did not bring any income and there were just expenses. There was anger and fear that the neighboring Arabs from all sides would take this land from me. In the month of Kislev, the 17 dunam were sold to Keren Kayemet Lisrael with the negotiations of Tzvi Schechterman. The price I received after expenses was about 460 lei. I was delighted that I got rid of the unpleasant business and even with some profit.

On the 3rd or 4th day of Chanukah, December 23, 1946, I participated in a celebration of an old friend, the architect Joseph Tischler from Butchash. This was in honor of fifty years of work and activities for Eretz Israel. He built several houses in Bnei Brak and other places. The party was in the large hall of KKL on Rechov Herman Shapiro. There were about 100 people, many of them doctors, writers and architects. I was one of the ten people who gave speeches. Tischler was the son-in-law of my deceased friend R’Moshe Hochman who lived in Stanislau.

(Pages 156/157)

At the beginning of January 1947, I received a letter from Eliezer Wasserman (Maimon). He is the grandson of my brother-in-law R’Moshe Leib Meltzer זל and has a high position in the “Hias” organization which helps to rescue Jews and works in their office in Salzburg, Austria. He tried to find out what happened to my children and the possible survival of any one of them. He received from one of the offices only one piece of sad news that my son-in-law Benjamin Bloch, who was born on February 2, 1894, died or was killed on October 22, 1944, in Mathausen, Germany תצנב'ה. E. Wasserman-Maimon promised that he would continue to search for the rest of the family and would notify me.

Content last updated Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 09:10 PM Mountain Daylight Time

Zabolotiv, Ukraine

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